Italy coach Cesare Prandelli took the unusual step of thanking UEFA president Michel Platini after his side secured qualification for the Euro 2012 quarter-finals.
Italy beat Ireland 2-0 on Monday and that coupled with Spain’s 1-0 success against Croatia ensured the Azzurri finished second in Group C and will play the Group D winners in the quarters on Sunday.
But Prandelli said Italy’s first goal, scored by Antonio Cassano with a flicked header from an Andrea Pirlo corner, was thanks to Platini. “I have to compliment him because without the fifth man maybe the goal wouldn’t have been given,” said Prandelli mischievously.He was referring to the UEFA initiative that saw fourth and fifth officials installed by the goals to help the referee with decisions in the penalty box and in particular in relation to instances when it’s not clear whether a ball has crossed the line or not.
Cassano’s header had beaten Ireland goalkeeer Shay Given before it was hacked away off the underside of the bar. At first glance it wasn’t easy to see whether or not the ball had crossed the line but tv replays showed it was correctly awarded.